"What were we thinking?" Weekly Update #1

Before #4
Originally uploaded by Temmerling.
Or: Walls? What Walls? I Don't See No Walls.

We've been wanting to start this project since January. But my brother, He Who Could Sell Snow to Polar Bears, beat me to the slave labor punch with my dad, by deciding to finish his entire basement, tying up my dad's labor for MONTHS. And then he had the nerve, when Kristin and I mentioned that we were having to wait for dad's help until he was done with the basement, to talk about how sad he was for Dad what with everyone planning all his weekends with hard labor clear until the summertime! HWCSSTPB makes more money that Kristin and I combined, he could have PAID someone to help him whereas if Kristin and I want this done we NEED my dad's help. I am just not that good at wiring and installing cabinetry myself.

Anyway, that's just him.

The funny thing is, his basement has taken so long because he doesn't like to get up early on weekends. So they're not getting in as much work each weekend as they could. Kristin and I, we're different. We're willing to get up as early as my Dad wants us too. So we're much more deserving of his help and love than HWCSSTPB is. So there!

Ahem. Anyway, we thought it would be weeks before we really got started. But then Dad called Friday night to say that the sheetrockers for the basement aren't done yet, so he had a free Saturday. Did we want to get some walls knocked down?

Ummm, yeah.

Except, Lauri and Benji were coming into town Saturday night. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers -- either us with our free labor, or them with their free room. So we called them and told them that this was going to be going on and they were fine with it (we knew they would be).

Saturday morning my Mom and Dad came over and we got started! Breaking into the wall Mom and Kristin took Julia off to get her Easter Pictures (I'll show them tomorrow or Wednesday!) so she wouldn't be breathing in all the dust. And Dad and I attacked the kitchen wall.

Yeah. It was a lot of fun. Only... we were so exited to get started that we didn't think about how messy lath and plaster are when you deconstruct. And so we didn't block off the other rooms of the house with plastic sheeting. Oh my! Dust was everywhere! And some of that dust may or may not contain lead paint fragments. About halfway through I looked at my Dad and asked him, "How much lead dust does an adult have to inhale before they get stupid?" and looked back at me and said, "I don't know, they never mention it. Now stand back, I need to rewire this outlet, but I don't want to bother turning off the breaker first, it'll take too much time..." (you think I'm kidding with that last part, and I have moved it up in the timeline for humor's sake, but he really did do all the rewiring without flipping the breaker. And people always wondered why I thought Home Improvement was such a funny show...)

Ok, back to the pictures:

Here's where my dad starts undoing all my hard work.Dismantling the first cabinet
Here's where we started kicking through the wall. Kicking through.
Wall goneAnd here's a view of the missing wall with most of the rubble cleaned up. Where my dad is standing on his ladder is where we'll build an arch to match the arch that divides the living room proper from the part of the living room that I like to call the library.

Then, just when we thought we were finished, the wall dividing the dining room from the hall started getting a bit mouthy, started talking some trash. You're NEXT So we decided to TAKE IT DOWN. Cutting the wall apart.. Actually, we realized that with the overhang on the bar, and people sitting at the bar, the entry to the hall/bathroom was going to be too small, and so we decided just to knock the whole thing down.

Turns out that is the bearing wall, but the doorway into it was never given a proper header, so now the ceiling is safer, anyway.

When Kristin and my mom came home they were appalled at the mess. I tried to say how we had been cleaning as we went, but that didn't excuse us of the (possibly) toxic dust filling the entire house. My mom watched Julia in the (dust free) basement while me and my dad kept working and Kristin started in on dust control. She finally caught up to us and then it was pretty funny, her following us around vacuuming and wiping nearly as fast as we could mess things up.

It reminded my dad of HIS mother. My grandfather was a carpenter, and my grandmother is a clean freak. She HATED constuction. So my grandfather would never tell her when he planned to start a new project. He'd just wait until she left for errands or something and then just tear a wall down. She'd come home, get upset, realize there was nothing she could do now, and start cleaning up after him.

Actually, now that I think about it, that's a sad story. No wonder they ended up getting a divorce... Anyway, since I grew up in houses that were always torn apart too (I, too, would come home from school or a friend's house to find walls missing or holes in the side of the house, or carpet torn up) I also HATE contruction messes. I hate living among the rubble and discombobulated rooms/furniture/appliances. It makes me all kinds of cranky. Funny, though, that I say that, because we are constantly remodeling parts of this house. But Kitchens are particularly troublesome to me. So, during this whole project I am going to work on keeping a Zen spirit and cleaning up as we go. So, for the cleaning, and the fact that during this work week, at least, our lives won't be too disrupted, I am so grateful to Kristin for working so hard to restore order to our home as my dad and I worked so hard to disorder it.

By 7:30 PM my parents were gone, the house was clean, and we were trying to adjust to the changed floor plan. 3/18/06 9pm

Up next weekend: framing and drywalling the rough openings and forming the arch.

Then a weekend off before knocking a hole in the side of the house!

Posted by Trista @ 10:33 AM

Read or Post a Comment

It is amazing what you can do in a weekend. It already looks great. Now you really have to get going on finishing it. I can't wait to see the finished product.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 1:15 PM #

I like the blase way you say, "it WAS a load bearing wall"... elaborate please? At what point in the process did you determine this, and how did you mitigate for it? I have never been one to tear down walls for fear of accidentally knocking down the wrong one, you see!

Posted by Blogger Jen @ 1:42 PM #

This is so cool. I looked at all the pictures and am totally engrossed in this!

Posted by Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) @ 5:03 PM #

Jen, my dad and I had a bet about which were the load bearing walls. He had been pretty sure that the kitchen wall we were planning to knock down was a bearing wall, but I was sure it wasn't... turns out I was right.

Anyway. My dad is a contractor and a home inspector as well as being a kitchen designer. So, before we started he crawled up into the attic space to check out the kitchen wall and that wall was supporting absolutely nothing. When we decided to take out the dining room wall he had been pretty sure that it had been a bearing wall, so he went back up and he was right. When you take out a bearing wall all you need to do is install a beam first. So we ripped off all the lath and plaster and left just the studs. That's when we discovered that the doorway through that wall didn't have a header (doorways and windows in bearing walls are supposed to have headers to support the weight over the span of the opening). We built a beam out of 2 2x6s and strapped it to the roof joists and then pulled the studs down and voila -- safe removal of most of a bearing wall. This is not something Kristin and I could have done on our own, so we're really glad that Dad was there to help us.

Posted by Blogger Trista @ 8:41 AM #

Because I am sitting in your basement, reading your blog like any good stalker closing in on her target, I can say: the kitchen looks nice. Because I walked in the door directly in front of both of the walls that you tore out and did not immediately notice they were gone, even after having been to your house numerous times and actually living here for three days a month ago, I can say: it all looks very natural.

Hey, wait - I just realized that in this post, I am a beggar.

Oh, wait. I am.

Posted by Anonymous lauri @ 4:17 PM #

Hey there Trista, I thought i'd swing in over here from the link at E's blog.

I love the pictures of the remodel and their captions. Great way to give the self guided tour.

I believe that the kitchen is the heart of a home, and yours is getting a much needed angioplasty :) I can't wait to see more.

Posted by Blogger Lizzardbits @ 9:57 PM #
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